Alabama lawmakers considering teacher ‘House Bill of Rights’

.(Live 5/File)
Updated: Mar. 10, 2020 at 8:00 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lawmakers are considering a bill that would create the teacher House bill of rights that supporters say would help ensure teachers receive respect in the classrooms.

Alabama House members plan to debate the bill on the floor Tuesday.

Here is the list of the bills of rights:

  • A teacher has the right to teach free from the fear of frivolous lawsuits, including the right to qualified immunity and to a legal defense, and to indemnification by his or her employing board of education, for actions taken in the performance of duties of his or her employment.
  • A teacher has the right to use appropriate means of discipline up to and including corporal punishment as may be prescribed by the local board of education, and, so long as the teacher follows approved policy in the exercise of his or her responsibility to maintain discipline in the classroom, the teacher shall be immune from civil or criminal liability.
  • A teacher has the right to remove any persistently disruptive student from his or her classroom when the behavior of the student prevents the orderly instruction of other students, or when the student displays impudent or defiant behavior, and to place the student in the custody of the principal or his or her designee.
  • A teacher has the right to have his or her professional judgment and discretion respected by school and district administrators in any disciplinary action taken by the teacher in accordance with school and district policy.
  • A teacher has the right to teach in a safe, secure, and orderly environment that is conducive to learning and free from recognized dangers or hazards that are causing or likely to cause serious injury.
  • A teacher has the right to be treated with civility and respect.
  • A teacher has the right to communicate with and to request the participation of parents in appropriate student disciplinary decisions.
  • A teacher has the right to complete only paperwork that is not excessively burdensome and that, if required by law, regulation, or policy, adheres to the law, regulation, or policy and does not result in overly cumbersome interpretations of that law, regulation, or policy.
  • A beginning teacher has the right to receive leadership and support, including the assignment of a qualified, experienced mentor who commits to helping him or her become a competent, confident professional in the classroom and offers support and assistance as needed to meet performance standards and professional expectations.
  • A teacher has the right to be afforded time during the school day or week to collaborate with other teachers.

The Alabama Education Association said this bill is a step toward providing educators with a work environment where they can be respected.

“While several rights outlined in the bill are already in law, such as the right to teach free from the fear of frivolous lawsuits and the right to use appropriate means to discipline students, other important rights, like the right to be treated with civility and respect, are not,” said AEA President Sherry Tucker.

Attorney Carl Johnson represents school boards in the state. Johnson said the language is vague and could make it difficult for boards to fire a teacher if necessary.

“Although well intentioned, could could have unintended consequences," he said. "It could be construed and apply to limit board’s ability to take necessary action where performance isn’t satisfactory.”

Schools will also be required to put a copy of the rights in ‘prominent’ places in each school and administrative building.

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